Honour for West Perth golden era’s John Loughridge

John Loughridge, who will be inducted into the WA Football Hall of Fame on Tuesday night,  receiving the 1946 Sandover Medal.
John Loughridge, who will be inducted into the WA Football Hall of Fame on Tuesday night, receiving the 1946 Sandover Medal.

WEST Perth’s post-war centreman John Loughridge was catching the tram to work.

It was 1946 and the season prior he had won the then Cardinals’ fairest and best award, the first of three in a career spanning 1945 to ’50.

Unbeknown to the humble footballer he had been announced as the Sandover medallist over the radio the night before.

“Hey, Lougho, I hear you won the medal,” someone shouted from the back of the tram.

“Oh, yeah?” he replied before the whole tram cheered.

The story was recalled this week by Loughridge’s daughter Dianne Lunt, ahead of her late father’s induction into the WA Football Hall of Fame on Tuesday.

“In those days there wasn’t much of a Sandover broadcast event,” she said. “It was much more low-key.”

Loughridge, who wore No. 10, was presented with the coveted medal before West Perth’s one-goal grand final loss to East Fremantle in which he won the Simpson Medal.

The medals, State representation, runner-up in the 1945 Sandover, playing in West Perth’s 1949 premiership and inclusion in the Falcons’ team of the Century have been included as highlights in his induction.

The family, which includes Dianne’s older siblings Greg and Jill, and John and late wife Shirley’s eight grandchildren and five great grandkids, will be represented at the induction ceremony at Fraser’s, Kings Park.

“It’s very exciting, we’re very proud for him and it’s a shame mum’s not alive,” Dianne said.

“It is lovely to have him acknowledged at that level.”

Loughridge grew up in Leederville – “in Garlic Muncher territory” – in Salisbury Street and played State schoolboys football for three years in a row.

John Loughridge, seated left in second row, in West Perth’s 1949 premiership team portrait.

Teammate Neil Garland (93) said the Hall of Fame inclusion was an honour well deserved for one of West Perth’s golden era players.

“He was a ball player; he played the ball at all times, John,” Garland said.

“He had a marvellous knack of being able to trap the ball in a pack and… get it out to his forwards. He was a great player.

“He was very popular amongst his teammates and also amongst the opposition, just a very fair, skilled player.”

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Garland said Loughridge could have played on a lot longer but for work and growing family commitments.

“In those days your employment was much more important than football in an economic sense,” he said. “We weren’t paid.

“If your job interfered with your football, then your job took priority.”

Dianne said her father, who died at the age of 58 from melanoma, had a variety of jobs, starting off as a saw doctor and linesman before a stint in retail at Foy’s and eventually ending up selling real estate.

His dad William, who also played league football, was wounded in World War I. Loughridge was unable to follow him into service because a motorbike accident had left him with one leg shorter than the other.

His grandfather was one of three brothers from Northern Ireland who came out to Australia in late 1800, initially to Victoria.

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Loughridge would take pride in the Big V guersney he swapped for his WA jumper after an interstate game.

He wore it at training and when teammate Norm Lamb took it off Loughridge’s peg at Leederville Oval and wore it one night, the champion midfielder was not amused.

It was the only time Garland saw the jovial Loughridge angry.

“As a revered member of the team he had his own peg on the wall,” Garland said. “Norm Lamb turned up at training, grabbed it off the peg and put it on. John got very cross at Norm for taking his prized possession.”

Dianne said her father was humble about his career but remembers him mentioning opponents such as South Fremantle champion Clive Lewington.

We are very proud to learn of Past Player John Loughbridge's induction into the WA footy Hall of Fame. John, pictured…

Posted by West Perth Football Club on Friday, 8 March 2019

And she recalled a story about what one of his rivals had eaten before the game.

“Dad’s pre-game meal was a big bowl of soup,” she said.

“And one day he played against somebody who had a huge roast dinner and he went ‘I’ve got you beaten then’.”

“So even in those days there was a little bit of knowledge about what was good to play on.”

Garland also mentioned South’s Lewington to “give you an idea of how good John was”.

“At that time if you played in the centre like John you played on the same bloke from quarter to 3 to 5 o’clock,” Garland said.

“He stuck some very good footballers. He stuck Sonny Maffina from Claremont, Clive Lewington from South Fremantle and Frankie Allen from East Perth, who all won Sandover medals,” Garland said.

“There was some very, very good players that played in the centre of the ground and John was one of them.”

After playing, Loughridge did some football commentary, served on the committee at West Perth and helped welcome new Sandover medallists to an annual medallists function.

“He would be part of that Sandover social event, welcoming the new players and wanting to keep the importance and history of the medal going,” Dianne said.

As for Loughridge’s own medal, it has been framed by son Greg.

“Mum was a bit scared of losing it, so she kept it tucked away in a drawer,” Dianne said.

“But it would come out and be revered every now and again.”